Five Days

I.

I pace the corners of my mind like an alchemist studying every ingredient to find the perfect recipe for transformation.

I read this quote:

Honey and wildfire are both the color gold. 

and it feels like a clue to something burning inside.

Victoria Erickson

II.

Perhaps a litmus test for the depth of a friendship should be whether or not they encourage you to nap when you want to.

Her and I, we go way back.

 

III.

The sea gulls fly past the window, calling shrilly like an alarm sounding action. I envy their freedom.

 

IV.

The sinking sun sharpens the branches of a cedar tree. They are sewing needles, poised to stitch a tapestry, as river-scented wind ripples across the fading sky. 

 

V.

I wake up in a house of light. A capsule of a moment, imagination run wild.

Adventure is calling me.

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Salt

Worry evaporates like rain from sand
in the warm wind.

Granules of self begin to
reconstruct into a solid shape;
Suddenly I have toes
and a torso,
ears, and a nose.

The sound of the ocean transmutes
the agony of self-analysis.
It turns remnants of fear into salt,
the life-giving brine that birthed the world.

I picture my grandmother squeezing a pinch of that salt
from a tiny porcelain dish on her kitchen counter
and flicking it over her left shoulder,
asking god for protection.

The crystals hover in mid-air,
glinting in the morning light
before tumbling joyously onto the tile floor.

That which ails us
also cures us.

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Spare Change

His words came out strung together like they were separated by dashes instead of spaces. Spare-any-change-thank-you. Spare-any-change-thank-you. Spare-any-change-thank-you.

It took me a block’s walk to decipher what he was saying. The hurried rhythm of his chant tap-danced in my ears as I turned the corner toward Pioneer Square in downtown Portland.

A young man in a tan leather jacket leaned against the black iron gate of the Pioneer Courthouse and casually thumbed through his phone. A few feet away, a woman wearing an oversized pink sweatshirt rummaged through a shiny, silver garbage can.

Was it the moodiness of a gray, winter day luring me to further analyze, or were the man’s words about more than just pocket money? Instead of asking for coins, what if he were asking for real change? As in: Can you spare to make a change? Thank you.

Three blocks later, while waiting for the crosswalk to turn, a man sitting in a wheelchair suddenly burst into song.

“I’m so tired of this world, I feel like I could bust!” he crooned to a surprisingly cheerful melody. His weathered, tan skin stood out beneath a white baseball cap.

We made eye contact and his lips parted into a sheepish smile; a beige, unlit cigarette hung from his bottom lip. It was like a confession, and I was his witness. I returned his smile, and then crossed the street, feeling both humbled by this tiny moment of connection and weighed down by my own sadness about the way things are.

And so on my bus ride home, I wondered what it would take to shift our culture of  individualism to one that truly cared about the well-being of the collective. As long as we keep failing to recognize how simply another’s position could have been ours, we deny our shared vulnerability in an uncertain world. (A flurry of bad luck and our lot could be quite different.)

Maybe things will change in 2019, maybe they won’t; but today I was reminded how a simple walk through the city can prompt us to consider whether or not we can, collectively, spare any change.